RCBI supports Navy with 3D printing technology business

HUNTINGTON – Navy sailors aboard the USS Tulsa now have access to 3D printing technology and the expertise to use it, thanks in part to the Robert C. Byrd Institute at Marshall University and its apprentice work partner AST2.

According to a press release from RCBI, Apprenticeship Works and AST2 (Applied Systems & Technology Transfer) recently offered virtual training to help sailors prepare to use 3D printing technology at sea.

The ship’s captain and his chief engineer, Lt. Andrew Bardwell – himself a home 3D printer user – asked volunteers to sign up for the additive manufacturing (3D printing) pre-apprenticeship.

The members of the ship’s crew were instructed in the setup, operation and maintenance of LulzBot 3D printers and learned related CAD (Computer Aided Design) techniques and the operation of Artec precision scanning devices. At sea, the sailors practice what they have learned from 3D printing components on the ship.

Morgan Smith, a design engineer at RCBI Huntington, last month provided CAD training courses about Zoom to Navy personnel aboard the USS Tulsa in San Diego, which is approximately 2,200 miles away. Before an object can be 3D printed, a drawing must be created with 3D modeling software and then transferred to the 3D printer, which reads the data to create the object.

This isn’t the first time RCBI has been offering 3D printing training to Navy employees, the press release said. In 2019, Chris Shaffer, a design engineer at RCBI in South Charleston, flew to California twice to train seafarers to use 3D printers as part of the RCBI Military Pre Manufacturing Pre-Apprenticeship Program.

“RCBI has been serving the Department of Defense for more than 30 years, developing supply chain links and providing access to advanced technology and creative human resource development solutions to fulfill the military’s critical mission,” said Charlotte Weber, director and CEO of RCBI in the publication. “We are proud to support the Navy in using 3D printing technology to solve logistical problems in the supply chain during the mission.”

The Apprenticeship Works initiative supports nationwide advanced apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships, including pre-apprenticeships specifically for military personnel and veterans on active service.

Apprenticeship Works is supported by a grant from the American Apprenticeship Initiative of the US Department of Labor. To learn more about the program, contact Lucinda Curry, RCBI Apprentice Director, at [email protected] or 304-720-7742.

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